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Key points from France’s new €2billion plan to encourage cycling

The new ‘plan vélo’ aims to make cycling an attractive form of transport and instil a cycling culture in France, which will also boost the economy

The plan vélo is aiming to make cycling more attractive for more journeys Pic: MilanMarkovic78 / Shutterstock

France is set to invest €2billion over the next four years to encourage more cycling, including new cycling roads and infrastructure and financial help to buy bikes.

The details were announced last week. In total more than €6billion will be invested as part of the ‘mobilitiés’ plan, of which the cycling ‘plan vélo’ is one part, announced Transport Minister Clément Beaune and Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also reminded people that “half of car journeys are for less than five kilometres” so “bikes definitely have their place” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Currently, only 5% of journeys of 5km or less are done by bike and only 3% are done by bike overall. This compares to 24% of journeys made on foot, government figures show.

The plan vélo has three main aims:

  1. Make cycling and walking an attractive alternative to private cars for local trips and to be well combined with public transport for longer distances.

  2. Make cycling a powerful part of our economy by supporting the ecosystem of French manufacturers.

  3. Make cycling accessible to everyone from an early age, and throughout life.

The plan includes:

Developing new cycling lanes and routes

The government will build on its existing investment in 2023 of €200million to create more safe cycling lanes and cycling routes.

The government statement confirmed that this would amount to €1.25billion, meaning €250million per year to “accelerate the development of cycling infrastructure for everyone in France.”

This will include the development of cycling paths and cycling tourism routes. Currently, there are 57,000km of cycling paths across the country, but the “aim is to increase this to 80,000km by 2027, and 100,000km by 2030”.

Since 2019, “the use of bike infrastructure has risen by a third,” the government said. 

Another aim is to “better combine the use of bikes with public transport. [Allowing people to travel] using multiple methods is one of the biggest challenges we are facing”, the government said at the start of President Macron’s first term in office.

Read more: France confirms €250million investment in push bikes by 2023 

Increase and extension of financial aid to buy bikes

Financial aid to buy a bike is set to be extended until the end of 2027. 

The aid will apply to new bikes, as well as second-hand models sold through professional vendors. 

Between €300 and €2,000 is available depending on the household’s income and the type of bike purchased.

People who use their bikes to get to work will also benefit from the forfait mobilité durable (sustainable transport aid) for another €200-300.

Read more: Are there any financial aids for buying an electric bike in France? 

New rules in the highway code

The government is set to trial new rules in the highway code to encourage safer cycling and streamline bicycle traffic.

It said: “Proposals include the idea to install footrests on the side of the road, so that cyclists can stop at traffic lights without having to get out of the saddle.”

Traffic lights could also ‘go green’ for cyclists first, to give them time to remount and “regain sufficient speed” before the other vehicles can re-accelerate behind them.

The government has also said that it wants 100% of its sites to offer secure bicycle parking by 2027.

850,000 children taught to ride per year

The government also intends to help 850,000 school children per year learn to ride a bike, and help to develop a culture of cycling across the country.

Mr Béchu told newspaper Le Parisien: “In 2023 alone, 200,000 extra children will benefit from this programme.” After this, all children who will leave primary school from 2027, and above, will benefit from cycling lessons.

Bike manufacturing and tourism

The government is also aiming to support the bicycle manufacturing sector. It aims to help France produce more than 1.4 million bikes per year by 2027, up from the 854,000 in 2022.

France also wants to encourage more biking tourism. Ms Borne said: “We aim to make better use of the potential for tourism and services linked to cycling [tourism].”

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Does France still offer aid to buy an electric bike?

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